Speech of Mr. Antonius Broek, UNDP Resident Representative, at the Validation Workshop on Post-2015 National Consultations in AzerbaijanJun 21, 2013
"Voice of Azerbaijan" - Post-2015 National Consultations in Azerbaijan
Back in September 2000, Azerbaijan, along with 189 other UN Member States, endorsed the Millennium Declaration at the UN Summit which embodied eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) defining a common framework for making a difference in people’s lives by 2015, the deadline for achieving these goals.
The MDGs were brought into the mainstream of government policy making and, since then, have been transforming the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people in the world. Using a time-bound and outcome-oriented approach, the MDGs have had a deep effect on international development policies. By focusing on a limited set of measurable targets, the MDGs have helped to increase and channel more efficiently national budgets and development aid, set global and national priorities, mobilize action, and achieve tangible results.
The eight specific and ambitious MDGs include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary school education, reducing maternal and child mortality rates, fighting killer diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS, etc. In many countries, several or all of these goals are expected to be achieved by the 2015 deadline. According to the UN figures and the World Bank’s estimations, global extreme poverty rate has been cut in half and the goal will be met, as the population share of extremely poor people in developing countries is projected to fall from 29% (1990) to 12% (2015). The world has achieved parity in primary education between girls and boys and has also met the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water - two billion people have gained access to safe drinking water.
However, a few MDGs (e.g. reducing child mortality) prove to be elusive worldwide and, with mixed successes and setbacks, are not likely to be met by 2015. In April 2013, the United Nations called the governments, international organizations and civil society groups for accelerated action in the next 1,000 days to reach the eight targets, urging the international community to intensify progress towards the goals by increasing targeted investments in health, education, energy and sanitation; to empower women and girls; to focus on the most vulnerable people; to keep up aid commitments, and re-energize efforts from governments to grassroots groups to make a difference. Of global importance is also the need to focus more on quality, even if a MDG has been achieved in terms of quantity the actual quality of services often can be improved further.
With the fast approaching deadline for the MDGs, and need to continue our efforts until 2015 to achieve the MDGs, the United Nations and world leaders have at the same time been working together to identify the priority areas for global development and build a collective vision that will be used to plan a new development framework beyond 2015.
The new post-2015 global initiative was an important topic at the UN RIO+20 Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. Heads of State and Government and high-level representatives and civil society met to discuss the overarching challenge - how to galvanize global support for thinking about creating dynamic yet sustainable growth for the 21st century and beyond.
At the Rio+20 Conference, agreement was reached to launch a process of formulating a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Member States renewed their commitment to sustainable development and promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet as well as for present and future generations, and endorsed a common vision entitled ‘The Future We Want’.
Since June 2012, the United Nations, under the leadership of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, has been working with governments, private sector, civil society, academia, research institutions, think tanks, and other partners to lead the process of broad and open consultations in an attempt to shape and develop an inclusive and holistic Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Being a priority for the international community, the post-2015 framework for development will draw lessons from the Millennium Development Goals and address the multiple interlinked global challenges of: eradicating poverty, ensuring environmental sustainability, achieving economic equity, ensuring gender equality, tackling climate change, building resilience, etc.
To prepare a vision for future global development efforts and provide recommendations on how to bring together the Sustainable Development Goals identified at the Rio+20 Summit, the Secretary-General appointed a High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which was co-chaired by the President of Indonesia, the President of Liberia, and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and was made up of civil society, private sector and government leaders.
The main perspectives coming through the global and national consultations are that the current MDGs remain highly relevant, but they need to be expanded upon and deepened, both in terms of their quality and inter-linkages among them. The first findings identified three priorities for the future development agenda: i) the progress on MDGs should be accelerated and adapted to contemporary challenges, such as growing inequalities within countries and the impact of globalization; ii) there is a need for a universal agenda to address challenges like environmental degradation, unemployment, and violence; and iii) people want to participate, both in the agenda setting as well as monitoring the progress in implementation of the Post-2015 framework.
Azerbaijan has joined the 87 pilot countries initiating national consultations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Consultations commenced in March 2013 and will continue in June, engaging a wide range of stakeholders to define a vision of the world the people of Azerbaijan want to live in beyond 2015 and define the national context for the new long-term development priorities, thereby building on and also reinforcing the actual implementation of Azerbaijan: Vision 2020 national strategy.
In cooperation with national and international partners and stakeholders, the United Nations agencies in Azerbaijan engaged a total of 2,402 persons through 237 deliberations held in 13 provinces/rayons and Baku. Over the past three months, people from all walks of life, men and women, boys and girls, in both urban and rural areas, were encouraged to ask themselves various fundamental questions that will help guide the global debate on crafting the post-2015 development agenda.
For the first time in its history, the UN system in Azerbaijan has provided unique venues for the people to articulate their views and share their aspirations for the world and future they want for themselves and people globally. Broad and intensive consultations brought together academia, international development partners, think tanks, private sector, entrepreneurs, business associations, journalists, NGOs, with a specific focus on vulnerable groups, youth and women (particularly, in rural areas), children, persons with disabilities, IDPs.
The consultations addressed a plethora of development issues such as economic diversification and shared growth; social cohesion; gender equality and rural women’s empowerment; youth empowerment (especially in rural areas); private sector, employment and jobs creation; food security, nutrition, and rural development; population dynamics; migration and human trafficking; health issues (including reproductive health, non-communicable diseases, TB, HIV, malaria).
Hundreds of people in Azerbaijan who participated in the post-2015 national consultations were encouraged to express their views and many of them noted the progress made towards the MDGs in Azerbaijan, acknowledging that a broad range of national policies and continuous economic development have created a conducive environment for the country’s meeting most MDGs, even a few of them (such as MDG 1 and MDG 2) ahead of time.
The consultations stirred up lively debates, and the initial fusion of ideas, suggestions and the most essential issues that have emerged from the three-month dynamic and inclusive national consultation process reflect a diverse range of perspectives for the sustainable development in Azerbaijan and globally. The national dialogue participants were unanimous that efforts should be strengthened and give even more attention to quality of services in order to further sustain the country’s rapid growth and achievements made over the last decade to transform Azerbaijan into a dynamic excellence hub in the years to come. “Azerbaijan should further invest in creating human wealth and strive to becoming a centre of excellence by nurturing qualified professionals” - this statement made by a middle-aged male participant at the regional consultation in Barda echoes aspirations of the overwhelming majority of those who were interviewed and consulted.
The collective ideas and recommendations generated by the consultations in June will be made available on the country website www.post2015.az.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen! We have gathered today to synthesize the evidence and suggestions offered by the people throughout the three-month consultations and to garner your suggestions, recommendations, and ideas for a shared global vision of “The Future We Want” and sustainable development in Azerbaijan.
Today’s workshop will also provide the opportunity to share thoughts and key messages arising from the exchange of diversified opinions and will help capture recommendations for setting both global and national priorities for policy makers, illustrating the world the people of Azerbaijan want to live in beyond 2015.
The national consultation process will also serve as a forum for the people of Azerbaijan to unite with other nations around the world in a common purpose around a shared vision of the global common future — the future they want. Importantly, it will also help position Azerbaijan very well for the upcoming debate of the General Assembly and other fora on setting the global post-2015 priorities.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our government counterparts and both national and international development partners for fruitful collaboration throughout the national consultations.
The post-2015 consultation process is the beginning of an historic journey which will help us move closer to a new framework that can build and expand on the MDGs, as well as the progress made at Rio+20 Conference, and make a difference for generations to come.
We look forward to cooperating with you all over the next years to contribute to the integrated implementation of the national Vision 2020 strategy and the new post 2015 vision and SDGs for the global development that will lead to inclusive and sustainable socio-economic growth with due importance given to quality of services and quality of life in general.
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Ruslan Ismayil-zada, Communications Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org